Eternity in Sansar

Sansar: Eternity

Eternity is the name of the fifth experience by C3rb3rus that I’ve visited in Sansar. I’ve previously blogged three of the others – 2077 and Darkwood Forest in-depth and The Diner as a part of my coverage of the Sansar’s Scariest competition – I have yet to write about Floating Temple, as I’m waiting to see if it develops further!).

Eternity is on a much smaller scale than the previous designs by C3rb3rus – but it is intricately and beautifully detailed and animated, making a visit a must. It’s a single scene environment, presenting an enormous structure in two parts, standing atop an island of floating rock, serenely suspended in the air.

Sansar: Eternity

The first part of this structure is open to the sky above, its high walls an intricate lattice of wood (or copper?) supported by beautifully embossed metal ribs. In general design, it appears church-like: a long, narrow nave leading to a short transept / choir / apse. The aisles either side of the nave are represented by two intricately patterned ramps which gently slope up along the line of the structure to follow the outward curve of the walls. Directly in front of the landing area, almost blocking the way forward, is a great mechanical horse running at the gallop without ever-moving.

To call this a work of art would be an understatement; it is quite simply magnificent. held above a platform on which gears turn and roll by a single supporting pole, this horse is a masterpiece of construction. Burnished in bronze, its legs are fully and naturally articulated, moving with the fluid grace of a horse, head and neck moving in unison with its strides. Partially covered by engraved plates and partially open to the world, the beast has a mechanised interior which rocks and moves in response to its gallop, almost as if driving it, even though none of the gear wheels (understandably) are turning.

Sansar: Eternity

Beyond the horse – which can be viewed from the rough floor of the structure or the ramps on either side – visitors can make their way to the “transept” where more mechanical wonders await. The “floor” here resembles the partially exposed inner workings of a clock or pocket watch with gears meshing and turning and flywheels rocking. A raised dais continues this theme, stretching back towards a single opening. Overhead, an orrery turns embossed metal worlds in orbits around a central point. While one of these worlds is ringed like our Saturn, they do not otherwise appear to be representative of our own solar system.

It’s a stunning, magical setting – but again, the orrery and floor workings can easily be overlooked as eyes are drawn to the far wall of their structure. Solid in nature, all of its entire face is a fabulous tribute to the elegance of clockwork mechanisms, complete with a great brass-like device standing in the middle, above that open doorway mentioned above.

Sansar: Eternity

Surrounded by the copper / bronze gears and flywheels, this round face has the look of both a clock – albeit it one telling time in a way foreign to the human mind – and the great circular window of a church or cathedral.  Indeed, the vertical face on which it is mounted – part of the second, fully enclosed structure in the scene – does through its very shape, heighten the feeling of this being a church, a place raised to the glory of Time.

Eternity is a marvellous portrayal of both our relationship with, and insignificance before, Time itself.  The horse running at the gallop is the very embodiment of tempus fugit, the orrery a reminder that some things endure within the passage of time for far longer than we do, while the great engraved heart suspended by chains above it perhaps stands testament to our own fleeting mortality.

A marvellous, richly detailed and evocative installation.

Experience URL


Sansar: client Atlas update and Anu’s Copper Valley

Sansar: Copper Valley

As per my 2018 week #3 Product Meeting notes, the Sansar Client Atlas has been updates to include the new Popularity sort option and currency indicator.

When selected from the sort drop-down menu (see below), the Popularity option orders the listed experiences in a tab by current real-time use, so those with avatars actually visiting them will be listed first. In addition, those experiences with avatars in them have a concurrency indicator in the top left corner of their thumbnail image. This is a near real-time indicator that the experience is in use at the time it is seen in the Atlas.

Client Atlas: popularity in sort drop-down (circled), and the concurrency indicators (arrowed) available for all experiences with avatars in them on all tabs

The banner images from that Product Meeting report was an advanced look at a new experience by Anu Amun, which is now publicly listed in the Atlas, by the name Copper Valley. A work-in-progress, it offers a mechanoid landscape inspired by steampunk.

The spawn point for the experience drops visitors onto a platform roughly in the middle of this curious landscape. A raised walkway runs behind the spawn point, linking a tall windmill, sails slowly turning, with stairs leading up to another platform. Steps also offer ways down to the lands below – on one side a row of little houses, their walls and roofs seemingly made of copper – walls green and aged-looking, the roofs pristine.

Sansar: Copper Valley

On the other side, through peculiar trees, looking like they’ve been cut from blocks of metal or cut from heavy sheets, and past Mecano-like seats, to where massive blocks rotate as if on long axles hidden just below ground, rising and falling from flat fields of screwed-down metal plates. Overhead, great bulky clouds drift across a dusty sky with “normal” clouds at much higher altitudes.

It’s a strange environment, complete with it own enchantment; a mechanical place where the sandy hills are gradually giving way to more of the metal plate fields with their rotating axles of blocks. So much so, that in one corner, the “fields” are still under construction.  Exploring this realm is a case of following the elevated paths, climbing the stairs, descending the steps and following your nose – but be warned! Some surfaces aren’t as solid as others.

Sansar: Copper Valley

Having enjoyed Anu’s Anu, I admit to being curious as to where Copper Valley might go. In the meantime, it makes for a most unusual visit.

Experience URL

Sansar: in the year 2077

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077 – click on any image for full size

C3rb3rus is fast becoming one of the top designers of atmospheric experiences in Sansar. I’ve already written about two of his designs – Darkwood Forest (see here) and The Diner (see here – although it is deserving of a dedicated write-up). His most recent design – 2077 – has already garnered a lot of coverage, which is why I held off writing about it immediately it opened. However, it’s not hard to understand why it is has been popular -it is visually stunning.

This experience takes its basic theme from the style we perhaps most readily identify with the likes of Blade Runner – although I personally see it as something of a fusion between that and the short-lived TV series, Total Recall 2070 (itself a fusion of Philip K. Dicks We Can Remember for You Wholesale and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the inspiration for the original Blade Runner film). On arrival, visitors are placed on a long street – a canyon, if you will, formed by the flat faces of high-rise buildings, themselves surrounded by even taller skyscrapers which glitter with light.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

By comparison with the latter, the streets on which visitors stand seem dark, cold, and a little threatening. With graffiti on the walls and litter on the streets, this feels is if it is a much poorer part of the city than the horizon forming towers of light and colour. Perhaps those glittering towers are where status and wealth reside; the higher up residents are within them, the more their status has literally elevated them above the darker, poorer world flowing around the feet of their great glass-sided citadels.

Perhaps this is why, flying cars zip back back and forth high above the streets, their passengers intent only on spanning the gap between lofty perches, and oblivious to what lies below, lost in the night. Nearer to the ground, more of these cars pass through the canyon-like streets, travelling a little more cautiously, while one or two have forsaken the air altogether – or have perhaps been decommissioned, like Deckard’s old Police spinner in Blade Runner, confined to crawling along the dimly lit streets.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

Dim though the lighting down here might be – the street lamps little more than thin lines of blue iridescence atop tall metal poles and which case cold pools of light beneath them – the streets are still alive. Digital advertising boards shimmer, turn, dance and project, adding their own illumination which reckons off the otherwise dull surfaces of roads and sidewalks. Walking the latter, it is possible to come across gaming halls and bars, or arrive at the corner of Walk and Don’t Walk as little green and red men flick back and forth on overhead signals, determining when it might be safe to cross a particular junction.

Over all of this, a great hologram of a female face looks down, turning slowly from side to side, as if keeping a watch over the streets in her care. Not far away, a single eye darts side-to-side on a billboard, a pattern of digital lighting over the pupil for some reason putting me in mind of the Rekall chairs from Total Recall 2070. Elsewhere amidst this neon advertising one can find a hospital or clinic signified by both, a red cross and a ghostly skeleton rotating slowly above the entrance, Max Headroom close by, perhaps mocking passers-by.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

C3rb2rus likes to include motion in his designs  and 2077 is no exception to this, as demonstrated by the ground and air traffic. But there is more; the spawn point in the experience, for example is under an elevated train track. Behind it (and easily missed), a ramp offers a way down to where a platform awaits. It is periodically visited by a subway train you can step aboard and ride in a loop around the build. I have no idea if this is indicative that more might be added to the build (there’s only the one stop at present), but it does offer a certain promise to the design.

Nor is this all. Find your way to the high rise at one end of the main street, and ceiling lights will direct you to where an elevator regularly descends and rises. Step into it, and it’ll offer a trip up to a modest – bordering on austere – apartment, which in turn offers a grandstand balcony view back through the experience. Watch for a few minutes, and you’ll witness another nice touch,, as an air car rises from the far end of the street, angling gently upwards until it reaches one of the lower skyways and passes overhead.

2077, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: 2077

Given that so many Sansar experiences are, due to the nature of the platform at present – largely static, 2077 feels very much alive, almost vibrant beneath the hues of the backdrop skyscrapers. Atmospheric, rich in detail despite its dark tone, this is an experience offering a certain promise of what Sansar might become as a role-play environment, as capabilities are improved.

Experience URL

Aech’s garage: a Sansar Ready Player One Experience

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage – click on any image for full size

Update, January 11th: following my enquiry concerning posting images of Aech’s Garage to the Lab, I received a reply from the Sansar community team, who also posted a  statement to the Sansar Discord channel, which I’m reproducing here, with the relevant comment highlighted for future reference by anyone positing images from Sansar:

We truly appreciate the ongoing support from the community, especially with all the excitement going on this week! We want to clarify that users are not discouraged from posting screenshots from any experience that is open to the public as long as there is no claim to exclusivity, early access, or other potentially misleading statements or claims that are untrue or could be construed as an official statement from Linden Lab or Sansar. We hope you all understand!

With this in mind, I’ve reposted the images in this article

Update: from the comments left by Ryan Schultz following this article, you can see there is something of a kerfuffle over whether or not images from the Aech’s Garage experience can be published. I have contacted Linden Lab on the matter, but have yet to receive a definitive reply one way or the other. To prevent further controversy, and while not having heard of any embargo myself, I have decided to remove the images in the post for the time being. 

Linden Lab recently unveiled two new experiences in Sansar, which I plan to look at in a broader piece on the platform later this week. However, one of them offers a particular attraction as a destination, so I’m leaping in with a look at it here as a part of my Exploring Sansar series.

Aech’s Garage is a joint collaboration between Linden Lab (via their Sansar Studios team), HTC, Intel, and Warner Brothers Entertainment to recreate the film set of Aech’s Garage from the upcoming Amblin Entertainment /  Village Roadshow Pictures film Ready Player One, the motion picture of Ernest Cline’s 2011 best seller.

In the novel and film, Aech (pronounced “H”) is best friend to Wade Watts, the novel’s protagonist – at least within OASIS, the two never having met face-to-face – who operates out of a basement location in the book. For the film, Aech’s base has been moved to a vast garage-cum-warehouse unit, and it is this space that has been recreated in Sansar with the formal title [HTC] Ready Player One – Aech’s Garage.

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage

For purists, the move might be seen as an annoyance and typical of Hollywood’s tinkering with adaptations for no readily apparent reason. From a visual perspective however – particularly if you are a film buff with a lean towards science fiction – the move is a treasure trove of sights. A long, comparatively narrow building, the garage is partially lit by a low Sun streaming in through the grime layered windows along one wall. This casts a good part of the experience into shadows which I suspect aren’t as quite as intrusive in VR mode as they can be when visiting in Desktop Mode. Klieg lights scattered around the building offer additional pools of light.

Entering via the Sansar Atlas spawns visitors at one of the building’s two ends, and from the start the level of detail is impressive. The lighting is very realistic, while the texturing and finish is superb. There are work bays, metal steps leading up to platforms and elevated work spaces, tools are scattered on work tops, bins, tyres and other detritus of an old working environment fill spaces and rise on tall racks standing against walls and windows. There even a bicycle is leaning against one wall – perhaps to offer someone a quick means to travel up the central aisle space of the building. Good use is also made of Sansar’s recently added audio materials: shoe heels click solidly on the cement floor, but footsteps ring hollowly as heels strike the metal steps when climbing up to or down from the raised platforms.

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage

But all this is just the apéritif, so to speak. The real feast lies in what can be found within this garage. Depending on which end of the building you spawn, you’ll find yourself either being watched by the Iron Giant from the 1999 film of the same name, or find yourself confronted by ED-209 from 1987’s Robocop – fortunately without its guns focusing on you with an ominous warning that you have 30 seconds to comply. The detail on both is superb, and the Iron Giant really gives a sense of scale. Split into two parts of upper body and head, with legs alongside, it is simply huge.

Nor are these the only models here. Sitting between them, down the sunlit side of the garage are a Mark 2 Viper from Battlestar Galactica (original and re-imagined), suspended from the roof alongside an Earth Defence Directorate fighter from Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, and a maintenance pod from the United States spacecraft Discovery One, featured in Stanley Kubrick’s seminal movie, 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage

Sitting under these, a little incongruously, is the prized 1961 Ferrari GT California Ferris Bueller (Matthew Broderick) persuaded Cameron Frye (Alan Ruck) to snag the keys for from his father in the 1986 teen movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. While across the central aisle is a mechanoid loader of a similar kind to those seen in the Alien movies, with a model of Eagle 5 from Spaceballs suspended overhead.

As noted, the visual aspects of this experience are superb, in Desktop mode it leaps out at you, and I’ve little doubt that in VR it will look stunning. What is especially interesting about it is that it is a tie to a forthcoming major motion picture, due to be released on March 30th, 2018, and perhaps marks the first attempt to use Sansar in one of the market spaces where it could have some traction: marketing and PR. It demonstrates a potentially low-cost way of generating public interest in films, etc., by allowing people to not only see trailers and teasers from the comfort of their own home via social media and the likes of YouTube, but to also offer them the opportunity to visit locations from blockbuster films ahead of their release.

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage

In this particular case, it is entirely fitting that a film which might help promote wider interest in VR is gaining some degree of added promotion from VR. I’m curious to see if Linden Lab / Warner Brothers / HTC plan to do more with the experience between now and the US theatrical release of the film at the end of March 2018, particularly given the way the début – through the 2018 Consumer Electronics Show, Las Vegas, courtesy of Intel – has been presented to the public at large.

Aceh’s Garage is without a doubt a powerful demonstration of Sansar’s potential, and a delight to visit. However, you plan to do so,  I’d perhaps suggest waiting until after CES 2018 closes on Friday, January 12th, 2018, as right now it is the subject Right now Aech’s Garage is tied to ongoing demonstrations of the HTC Vive at the show.While this is good for Sansar, it means that audio-wise there is a lot going on audio-wise within the experience, and it can get distracting with multiple overlapping conversations, even with Voice roll-off over distances. I frequently found myself getting caught between overlapping conversations and manually muting those I didn’t want to hear (including, I’d add, staff talking bugs and users over open microphones!).

Aech's Garage, Sansar; Inara Pey, January 2018, on FlickrSansar: Aech’s Garage

Experience SLurl

Whystler’s wonders in Sansar

Sansar: The Whyst Garden

Whystler is a designer with an interest in architecture and history, as demonstrated by two experiences I’ve recently hopped through – The Bridge Room and Whyst Garden, the latter of which, at the time of writing, has been a featured experience in the Atlas.

The Bridge Room is a virtual puzzle – not an overly difficult one to solve, admittedly, but one which is still fun to visit. Whystler describes it thus:

Inspired by Architectural Fantasy drawings of the 17th and 18th centuries, this room of architectural monuments provides a challenge. Can you find your way from one end to the other?

Sansar: The Bridge Room

And so it is that on spawning, visitors find themselves within a great stone hall with high, vaulted ceilings, supported by great square columns, which descend not to a floor, but into water, the base of each column forming an artificial islands, some of which are connected to at least one of their neighbours by one or two bridges. As Whystler states, the aim is to get from the spawn point at the base of one of these columns to the far side of the room via the bridges and avoiding falling into the water (which will cause a re-spawn). Again, it’s not an overly taxing challenge, but the architectural design makes for an interesting and fun visit.

The Whyst Garden offers a beautiful build which might have been lifted from a history book. It presents a melding of renaissance and classic Greco-Roman architecture, all brought together in what might be the façade of a great house or public building or temple with a formal garden terrace set before it.

Sansar: The Whyst Bridge

What is particularly interesting about this build – besides exploring its various levels – is that it is entirely modular, as Whystler has attempted to explain in the limited amount of space in the experience description. Elements of the build can be found on the Sansar Store – the Draco columns (as seen in the image above) and basic blocks. However, this is far more modular in scale, again as per Whystler’s notes in the Altas description.

Visitors arrive on the far side of the garden area, and can then stroll past the large reflecting pool and then take the steps up one of the two wings of the building, then explore the building itself – note there is just the one way the mid-upper level.

Sansar: The Whyst Garden

This are two small, easily loaded experience which offer something to do, with The Whyst Garden in particular well suited to be photographed, if you’re interested trying out the Sansar snapshot capability.

Experience URLs